All On a Poppy Seed Bun (#44)

Hello everyone, and welcome to Week 44! Next weekend is Labor Day weekend, so that means summer is almost officially over! I don’t know who it is almost officially over for, since both public schools and universities are back in session, but whatever. Enjoy one more blast on the grill!

My first variety edition on Chris Words has come to an end, and “The Horseshoe Letter” has now ended. I want to thank everyone who played the edition, and I hope that all of you thoroughly enjoyed it.

The solutions to the edition can be found [here]. Also, please don’t publicly list the solution anywhere, so that other people can come and enjoy the variety packet. I know that many of you wrote to me and noted that the difficult was nice and easy and that you were able to introduce the concept to new solvers. I am ecstatic that that was possible for those guys! So, a big thanks to everyone who solved the edition with novice solvers!

The first five people who sent me the correct answer to The Horseshoe Letter were, in order: Jeff Davidson, Gideon Fostick, Russ Kale, Todd McClary, and Justin Weinbaum. Congrats guys!

And, everyone else who sent me the correct answer, in alphabetical order: Erik Agard, Evan Birnholz, Alex Boisvert, Drew Dixon, Tyler Hinman, Jeremy Horwitz, Andy Keller, Eric Maddy, Jim Sempsrott, Jim and Becky Siirola, and Stephen Williams.

And, of course, credit should also be awarded to my fellow staff members at USC, who were able to solve the packet within a week! The staff certainly enjoyed it, and I’m glad all of you enjoyed it as well.

And lastly, if you enjoyed this puzzle extravaganza, be sure to head over the Panda Magazine for a bimonthly edition of puzzles and wordplay, and be sure to look out for Puzzle Boat 3, a puzzle hunt extravaganza that will take place in October this year.

Thanks everyone, enjoy the puzzle, and we have a meta next week! Fun times we live in!



Puzzle Difficulty: Mostly Harmless (#42)


Hello everyone, and welcome to Week 42!

Unlike several of my crossword cohorts, I do not issue a difficulty with my crosswords. But with this one, I decided to put the difficulty rating in the title. Hopefully, you’ll agree this puzzle is, in fact, mostly harmless.

Thanks to all the kind words about The Horseshoe Letter! For those who have solved it already, I hope you did enjoy it, and for those who haven’t submitted an answer yet, don’t panic! You still have two more weeks to submit your answer. Be sure to send any to all of your answers to cking.gow(at)

Not a lot of words on the post this week. Besides a themeless, I hope to have something else to tickle the collective Chris Words fanbase’s fancy.

Enjoy the puzzle!


The Horseshoe Letter (#41 and Variety Edition #1)


Hello Chris Words fans all across the country and around the world! I’m going back to USC this week, but I was already supposed to be there. My internship this summer ran had to run a little long, but I needed to be in USC so that I could receive training to be an RA (now my third year). Since I couldn’t be there, I left something there so that my coworkers could feel my presence.

As some of you may know, I am the creator of the USC Puzzle Hunt, which I believe is the second-longest currently-continuous collegiate puzzle hunt in the United States. I write crosswords, but I also make a bunch of other kinds of puzzles. And, thanks to a suggestion made by Sam Ezersky at the Indie 500, I thought I’d let you guys play along too.

For any of you unfamiliar with this type of meta challenge, I direct you to Panda Magazine, which is a both a great magazine and a great resource for puzzle people.

Besides a link to a Buzzword Bingo game I created for RA training, I also left this exact email.

As you know, this year is about CHANGE. For Honors, the biggest change is that the Horseshoe will be joining us as a staff this year. However, they are kind of worried about what they can do adapt to being a true pair with Honors. In an effort to learn, they are now ignoring the 11 buildings of their own, and are going to study 11 resident halls around campus.

You can find “The Horseshoe Letter” with all of their findings here:

Each building has one specific word that can be taken away as a lesson. That word is the answer. You can use the answer checker on the website to see if you are right. At some point, you must put those answers together in some fashion using wordplay to answer the question “As RMs, what can we provide for them?”

All the puzzles are easy to moderate, and there 11 of them! And there are 11 of you on campus right now! Instead of spending every hour in the resource room, take a break and hang out with each other. This is what this challenge was designed to do.

So, I have given you the same challenge. The Historic Horseshoe is worried, and they need you to tell them what they have to provide.

When I write the USC Puzzle Hunt, there are always several puzzles that include strict USC knowledge. However, this variety edition does not include things that only a USC student would know. Most involve standard wordplay and trivia.

I haven’t received any errata so far, but if there is some detrimental errata found in the packet, then I will post said errata on this page.

Errata: Some spelling mistakes that you should know
-South Tower = “Inquirers” should be replaced with “Inquires”
-650 Lincoln = “Duffle” should be “Duffel”, and “Seperation” should be “Separation”
-The Roost = “Cape” should be “Caped”

How about I give you three weeks to work on it? So, by August 29th, send me the answer to the question. Please send all email to cking.gow(at)

Also, feel free to work in a group! Let’s say that you can only play in a group of up to 3 people. This way, you can use all of your collective knowledge to solve this puzzle.

I’ll announce the first five teams/players who send in a correct final answer, and I’ll announce all of the teams/players that send us the correct answers for the 11 smaller puzzles. I want you to be recognized for your effort!

Thanks everyone, and there will be just one puzzle posted next week.


Also, congrats to Francis Heaney for winning LPZ8! Also, big congrats to Trip Payne and Erik Agard for rounding out the medals platform. Geez, that’s three titans of the industry if I’ve ever seen it.

Explanation for Meta #40

Hey everyone! This post is just a solution to Puzzle #40 “The Path to Freedom”. On Sunday August 9th, I will be posting a puzzle variety packet, so I wanted to make sure the two puzzles weren’t intertwined.

Also, hello to all of those first tuning in after seeing my puzzle at Lollapuzzoola! I hope you stick around for a while! Also, you can’t compete in the most recent meta contest, but you can go back and solve it. I’ll leave enough spoiler space below so that you still have the chance.

Chris Words Logo-Blue v3

[It was the name of his sled]

[He was dead the whole time]

[The planet was actually Earth]

[It’s people]

[It was all just a kind of purgatory]

[It was Kevin Spacey]

[It was Maggie Simpson]

All right here we go!

PNG040This puzzle was looking for a famous music album, and the five theme answers seem to be:

17A – [Baseball strategy that’s a good alternate name to this puzzle] = INTENTIONAL WALK
33D – [Unique feature for Guy #1] = BLUE JEANS
29D – [Unique feature for Guy #2] = BAREFOOTED
30D – [Unique feature for Guy #3] = BLACK SHOES
39D – [Unique feature for Guy #4] = WHITE SUIT

Four clues refer to four guys who each have a certain unique aspect of clothing (or not having it), while the other clues refers to walking. Putting these clues together reveals that this has nothing to do with actual songs, but is describing George, Paul, Ringo, and John on the cover of Abbey Road, our meta answer. 19D – [“Penny ___”] = LANE is also a slight nod to the Beatles overall meta.

I was happy with the construction of this puzzle, because I wanted to recreate the album cover as closely as possible. I was able to combine both the grid and the album cover, and you can see that they match up rather well.


I know a couple of you were confused about the Guy #1, Guy #2, etc numbering. I list George as Guy #1, while technically, John is the one leading the pack. I wanted to have the four numbers read left to right, which is the direction of the Beatles on the cover itself, so I stand with how I listed them.

I was able to talk to a number of you about the greatness of Abbey Road.  I’m glad you agree. It’s an absolutely amazing album, and I don’t think there are too many things in music that even come close to the medley from “You Never Give Me Your Money” to “The End”.

So, 40 readers submitted Abbey Road. This week’s randomly selected winner was Patricia Miga. She will join Jon Delfin, John L. Wilson, Jim Quinlan, Eric Maddy, Andy Keller, David Cole, Roger Barkan in a future section of the site. She will also win a prize that I have yet to determine. Congrats Patricia!

Tomorrow is the release of #41, the puzzle variety pack. It should be a nice intro to things like Panda Magazine, and will have a nice variety of puzzles for you to solve. You should be excited. I know I am.

For any first time readers, hope you like what you see, and be sure to subscribe, which can be found on the right side of this blog.

Thanks everyone! And I’ll see you tomorrow!


Meta: The Path to Freedom (#40)


Welcome back everyone to Week 40! The eighth cycle on the blog is now rounding out, and what a cycle it has been! I hope everyone has been enjoying the output of the blog, and I’m looking forward to what the next cycle has to offer. But let’s go ahead and finish up this cycle! And since 40 ends with a 0 or 5, it’s time for a meta puzzle!

For this eighth meta of the blog, I’m looking for a famous music album. When you think you have it, email me at cking.gow(at) with your answer. I’ll accept answers all the way to noon ET on Saturday.

The solution to this puzzle will be published Saturday evening, so that the blog post for #41, the variety edition, will be clear of the meta explanation. Also, I plan to give the winner of this contest a prize. Prize TBD, but there will be a prize.

1) I hope you are attending Lollapuzzoola 8! I unfortunately won’t be able to attend, but I am involved in a sponsorship with the event. Thanks to Ben Tausig, the indie puzzlemakers will have a presence in both poster form and in hard copy form. Be sure to support LPZ8, and I hope you continue to support indie puzzling.

2) Don’t think I was able to squeeze in any art history into the puzzle today, so today’s picture is “The Architect’s Dream” by Thomas Cole. You can see a larger version here.

3) Next week is #41 which is the variety puzzle edition. Get excited. The puzzles should be fairly straightforward, and hopefully you enjoy a break from one crossword for the week to having one crossword plus ten other puzzles!

Thanks everyone, and enjoy the puzzle. Be sure to email me your answer!